You might think that if you’re a smoker, life insurance will be difficult or nearly impossible to acquire. While this is true to an extent, you do have options available.
Your premiums will be higher than others who do not smoke, but there are several life insurance companies which do not have exorbitantly high premiums for tobacco users. Knowing which companies do not consider smoking to be a disqualifying condition is important. Learn more now with Benzinga’s guide to life insurance for smokers.
Insurance Carriers That Accept Smokers
Finding life insurance for smokers can be difficult, but it is by no means impossible. The following life insurance companies are well-known for providing policy options for smokers.
John Hancock has a program called Vitality which benefits “healthy smokers” — those who use tobacco but are otherwise in good health. Although this company doesn’t offer whole life insurance policies, the term policies offered come with coverage from $750,000 to over $60 million, which is more than enough to cover funeral expenses and replace any income that your beneficiaries could be dependent upon. The Vitality program offers perks to participants who opt to wear a portable fitness device, such as discounts of up to 25% on premiums, retail discounts at some corporate chains like Starbucks and REI and a free subscription to the meditation and well-being app Headspace.
Mutual of Omaha
All three major types of life insurance policies are available through Mutual of Omaha — term, whole and universal. This is true regardless of whether or not you are a tobacco user. Whole life insurance policies don’t factor in tobacco use, which can be a relief for smokers. However, the life insurance plans available with Mutual of Omaha have low payouts and are simply intended to cover death costs, such as funerals and burial services.
Globe Life is one of only a few life insurance policy providers that does not require a medical exam to enroll in a policy. This can be a great option for smokers or tobacco users suffering from health complications due to their lifestyle, or any underlying health complications. If you qualify for coverage with Globe Life, premiums can be extremely affordable. Depending on your age, you may be able to get coverage for as little as $4 a month. Globe Life allows you to choose a death benefit as low as $5,000 or as much as $100,000. Though these death benefits are lower, the lack of a medical exam and affordable premiums could make it worth the lower coverage for you.
Depending on your health level overall, Fidelity Life may not require you to take a medical exam to sign up for one of their policies. You have the option of using an online quote generator to get an estimate, or you can call an agent to ask about your coverage options. Fidelity offers 6 different policies to choose from, all of which require no waiting period to take effect and no medical exams. Fidelity Life’s plans come with death benefits up to $150,000. The company’s easy online quote process, selection of multiple policy types and lack of penalties for smoking may make Fidelity an appealing choice for smokers of all ages.
What Type of Life Insurance Can Smokers Obtain?
Smokers can get term life insurance, as well as what’s known as whole life and universal plans for life insurance. Term life insurance is exactly what it sounds like the policy holder can pay for life insurance for a specified period of time, and when that “term” ends, the policy holder can choose to renew the insurance term or to let the insurance expire.
Whole life insurance provides you with coverage for the duration of your life, meaning that there is no expiration date. You do not need to die before a certain date in order for your beneficiaries to receive your death benefit, as is the case with term life insurance. This type of insurance also comes with a savings option.
Finally, universal life insurance also lasts the lifetime of the insured, but its premiums tend to be lower than whole life. Universal life insurance can also accrue cash value like whole life, but often requires a payment in one lump sum at the beginning of the policy and then fixed premiums on a regular basis.
Some insurance companies don’t factor in tobacco when examining your application, or they may not factor it in heavily. This means that if you meet a certain health requirement as a tobacco user and you present as an otherwise healthy individual, a life insurance company may give you a standard smoker’s policy for life insurance similar to nonsmokers.
It’s a hike in price compared to someone who doesn’t use any tobacco products, but if your family medical history is clean and you don’t have any health conditions, this price increase should be on the lower end of the spectrum.
For example, Mutual of Omaha doesn’t even factor tobacco use into its whole life insurance policy application. Not every company is the same on this front, and most life insurance providers do factor in tobacco use when considering policy approvals and premiums. However, you can find that any type of life insurance policy (term, whole, universal, guaranteed) is available to smokers depending on where you look. You simply need to be prepared for the reality that you’ll pay more for your coverage.
If you’re concerned about not meeting the health requirements on a life insurance policy, you can always apply for guaranteed life insurance. There is no health exam required when you purchase a guaranteed life insurance plan — you can get life insurance with the only parameters being that you fit within a certain age range, commonly 50 to 80 years old.
There are some drawbacks to consider before you apply to a guaranteed life insurance policy, even if you’re shopping as a smoker. Life insurance payouts to beneficiaries upon the policy holder’s death are small, only a few thousand for the most part. These plans also tend to be the priciest since no requirements except age need to be met.
Finding Affordable Coverage as a Smoker
If you’re a smoker, it’s especially important that you take the time to compare all of your life insurance options by getting multiple quotes from competing insurance providers. Every insurance company uses its own formula to determine what you’ll pay for coverage, which means that you may find that one life insurance provider offers rates far below other life insurance providers that accept smokers.
Of course, the most effective way to save money on your life insurance policy is to make a plan to quit smoking, remain tobacco-free and apply again in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you have to quit smoking to get life insurance?
You can always get a smoker’s policy. You do not have to quit smoking to qualify for a life insurance plan. However, if you’re interested in getting life insurance at non-smoker rates, which are far cheaper, most companies require that you be smoke-free for at least 12 months.
In order to get the best rates on life insurance possible, it’s best to be completely smoke-free for at least five full years. However, as stated above, you can still get life insurance as a smoker or tobacco user.
What if I lie about smoking for life insurance?
It’s never a good idea to lie about health habits, medical conditions or smoking when applying for life insurance or on any type of medical form. Most life insurance policies will require you to get medical clearance by having a physical performed by a physician — in which case your lie will quickly be uncovered with a simple blood test.
In fact, not only could you be discovered and denied a policy, but the insurance company could even take legal action against you for insurance fraud. If you’re concerned about being denied coverage due to your smoking habits, consider applying for guaranteed life insurance.
Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank life insurance. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit our Life Insurance Methodology page.